An estimated 650,000 people flocked to the streets of downtown Pittsburgh to get up close and personal with their Stanley Cup Champions. All the stars were in attendance; from Jeff Jimmerson, the anthem singing sensation, to Sidney Crosby and the Stanley Cup.
Save a catfish. Throw a victory parade.
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 14, 2017
Why Parades Are So Special
Professional sports have taken over the North American continent and celebration parades have followed suit. They give every fan within driving distance a chance to collectively celebrate and see their favorite athletes without having to pay the price of admission. The average cost of a Penguins game for the 2016-17 season was $149.42 and that price only goes up during the playoffs. The cost keeps many fans away from live action.
The parade is free and it’s as close as some fans get all year to seeing the likes of Crosby and coach Mike Sullivan up close — not to mention the Stanley Cup makes an appearance. Hundreds of fans were lucky during the latest parade as Crosby spent several minutes walking the parade with the Cup in hand letting every fan who could reach an opportunity to touch the greatest trophy in sports.
Many of the Penguins were making their second consecutive parade appearance, but there were a few that were riding through the crowd’s for the very first time. Jake Guentzel shared a truck bed with Conor Sheary, which only made sense as the two shared a line with their captain. Sherry is now a veteran, but Guentzel was filled with joy and soaking up every second of the excitement.
Farewell to Fleury
Fans couldn’t help but realize that this was likely the last time they’d see goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in a Penguins jersey. After waiving his no-movement clause, Fleury is now likely to end up in Las Vegas next week. Fleury knew in February that if the Penguins were going to make a cup run, it was probably going to take him waiving his no-movement clause. It’s no wonder the Penguins executives continue to call him the best teammate in hockey.
Fleury has seen the Penguins at their worst and he’s helped build the dynasty that now has three Stanley Cups in the last nine years. Fleury holds nearly every goaltending record in Pittsburgh franchise history and is a crowd favorite. Although Fleury can only be moved to Las Vegas, it is likely that his tenure in Pittsburgh is over and the future belongs to Matt Murray.
Stanley the Catfish Swims Free
There were plenty of story lines during the Stanley Cup Final but none were exploited as much as the catfish nuance that Nashville introduced to the NHL. Pittsburgh fans made sure to have the last laugh after the parade ended after watching several catfish land on their home ice in three games versus the Predators.
Pittsburgh grocery stores and fish markets began checking ID’s during the Final to try and ensure that no Predator fans got their hands on catfish to sneak into PPG Arena. Wholey’s Fish Market took it upon themselves to house a 40 pound catfish that was caught by a local customer in order to keep it safe. Once the parade ended, Wholey’s owner spent 45 minutes acclimating Stanley back to the warmer river water temperature and then turned him loose at the Point.
Penguins Would Rather Throw Parades
The catfish bit was cute, but on June 14, 2017, the Penguins threw a parade that will go down as the largest sports parade in history. The Penguins also became the first team during the salary cap era that has won consecutive Stanley Cups. Confetti and ice cold beer spilled all over the streets of Pittsburgh, and although the parade has ended, the celebration is sure to last all summer long.
Smith works full time with Rise Against Hunger, a non-profit set on ending world hunger by 2030. He’s a hockey enthusiast living in Pittsburgh, PA and formerly covered the Pittsburgh Penguins for THW.
Follow him on twitter @BSmithWV